How to Build Better Portfolios and Proposals, Cut Through the Clutter and Find the Clients Who Will Make Your Full-Time Freelance Career Possible
“I’m tired of my job. What’s the fastest way to start my freelance career?”
People ask me this all the time.
I tell them to do what I did: Go to Upwork.
Yes, a bid site.
Bid sites get a bad name, but that’s how I started my career as a freelancer.
In many ways, Upwork and other bid sites are a “race to the bottom,” filled with clients who aren’t worth your time and freelancers willing to give away work for pennies on the dollar.
In many ways, bid sites absolutely 100% “feel like” a waste of your time. Get over that feeling and hear me out.
Bid sites are also incredible worlds of opportunity.
- They give you the opportunity to learn a new skill and get paid while you’re learning it.
- They give you the opportunity to maybe, just maybe meet the one client who changes your world and hires you full time.
- Bid sites give you the opportunity to quit the job you hate and earn the money you need.
If you get on Upwork right now and start looking for jobs, you can learn how to become a full-time freelancer just by experience alone.
That’s 100% how I did it.
Yes, it takes time.
No, you’re not going to be a full-time freelancer in 90 days.
Yes, it’s still 100% more cost effective to learn from someone who has been there so you can understand how to earn a full-time income by freelancing faster than simple trial and error.
But, if you want to just do it, bid sites let you do it (and learn on your own). There’s another thing too:
I Love Bid Sites Because They Have a
Just Below the Surface.
(Plus You Learn and Earn at the Same Time)
If you don’t have a lot of jobs under your belt you haven’t seen it yet, but the hidden economy is there.
I call it the “Bid Site Black Market.”
And it’s all the work that goes on behind the scenes.
- Projects that Don’t Get Listed in Profiles
- Payments that Happen through Pay Pal or To Your Bank Account
- Arrangements for Long-Term Work Happily Made by Both Parties
All originating from one just by chance job you picked up on a bid site.
There are dozens and dozens of clients posting every day who really need long-term help.
They want to hire you.
They want your services.
My “breakout job” ended up being a long-term Elance gig that turned into a retainer agreement with a check that came every single month.
I still work with that client.
My work is no longer full-time, but he sends me $5k a month on retainer like clockwork.
It all started with bid sites (Elance – now Upwork).
It Took Me 3 Months of Full-Time Bid Site Work
Before I Landed My First Full-Time Client.
What does that mean?
- I freelanced with bid sites part time (VERY part time) starting in 2007.
- Eventually, I decided not to work anymore and make writing on bid sites a full-time job (it was like $40k a year for me at the time).
- It took 3 months after I said “I want to do this full time” to get one single, amazing, well-paying full-time client.
- Before that, I was working multiple, not-that-great-paying projects on Elance (if you don’t want to go through this process, check this out).
- Again “full time” meant $40k a year for me at the time.
After that, things moved quickly.
My income has at least doubled every year since I said “I’m going to become a full-time freelancer.”
Why did my income double the first year I landed that full-time client?
Because at first, when you’re cheap and working bid sites, it’s in a client’s best interest to invest in you so you can make them more money.
Once I had a full-time client?
My career was set.
The path from there was rapidly up.
The Right Clients Will Invest In You While
Paying You More than You’re Making Now
That’s what happened for me.
And it’s what happened for over half of the freelancers I know.
I found a client who taught me how direct response copy works. Why did they teach me? Because investing in me and paying me to learn payed off for them.
You take that knowledge with you. Your client can’t keep it.
As of right now, I earn around $800 to $1000 per day for my writing services.
I bill between $100 and $250 an hour for consulting.
I write sales pages for $3,000 to $5,000 (and that’s on the relatively low-end for my niche).
Clients that hire put me on 6-figure per year retainer to confirm my availability.
Every day this week I was approached with a profit-sharing opportunity.
I put words, just like these words, on a page, send it to a client, explain how to use them, and my clients use my words to sell.
My example is not the exception.
If you’re willing to just throw yourself out there, you can make this happen.
I Knew NOTHING About Direct Response Sales Copy
(And Just a Little About Freelancing When I Started).
The very first day I was asked to write an “email autoresponder” campaign I spent 4 hours researching what an autoresponder was before writing a single word.
The first time I was asked to write a sales page, I had to figure out what a sales page was because I didn’t have a clue.
In the grand scheme of learning and building a viable freelance business, it has not been that long since I didn’t know up from down in the copy world.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because if you’re willing to put in the hours …
… if you’re willing to work at in in the trenches …
… if you’re so sick of sitting at a desk watching the world go by out the window that you’re ready to say “I’m done” and put in your notice …
You can do EXACTLY the same thing.
What If You Don’t Want to
“Wait for the Right Client” to Come Along?
If you just get out there right now and stop reading about it, you can learn to create a full-time freelance income on your own.
I did it.
You can do it.
Take a skill you have right now:
- Graphic Design
- Putting Words on a Page
- Sales and Marketing
- Web Design
- Software Development
And put your skill to work.
Don’t wait to do it.
If you do, if you put time into it, you can become a full-time freelancer just by trial and error alone.
Turn things in on time.
Be honest and excited to work with other people.
Show clients that you are eager to learn.
They will teach you how to take your skills and make them money.
It will happen.
All You Have to Do Is
Find the Right Clients and Get their Attention.
The blog post series you’re reading right now is all about finding the right clients using bid sites like Upwork.
I’ll show you, step-by-step, how to tell prospective clients exactly what they want to hear.
Follow along and learn as I explain strategies you can use to leverage Upwork as a market research tool to better define your service.
You’ll discover how to build the portfolio prospective clients are looking for.
And you’ll build a battle plan for better proposals—
—proposals that get you hired, get clients investing in you, and get you into full-time freelancing.
That’s the Topic of Part 2:
The Bid Site Battle Plan
Backwards Proposal Strategy
Before we move into Part 2, let me say this:
Bid sites are a great way to learn and get paid while you do it, but they are not the fastest way to learn.
The fastest way to learn how to become a full-time freelancer is to do what you’re doing right now: “Ask” someone who has been there.
I often get asked:
“If You Had to Do It All Over Again,
How Would You Do It?”
If I wanted to do this again:
Quit a full-time job and replace all of that income with freelance $$$
I wouldn’t turn to Upwork or any other bid site.
Knowing what I know right now about business, marketing, copywriting (that’s my skillset)—
—I would pick an entirely different approach.
Before We Go Any Further, Learn
“The Anti-Commodity Formula”
(And Consider a “Non-Bid Site” Approach to Freelancing)
Now you’re going to say, “Wait a minute …”
“… didn’t you just tell me that you tell people who ask how to become a freelancer to ‘go to Upwork?’”
The answer is, “yes.”
Because the Anti-Commodity Formula takes time to explain.
It actually takes an entire guide to explain.
You can click below to get the Anti-Commodity Formula guide right now.
It’s a non-bid site, non-commodity formula to full-time freelancing.
*NOTE: Part 2 is coming soon!